Happy Birthday to Us

September 10, 2008

It’s TKE’s 31st Birthday! And not only that, it’s also the one year anniversary of my hiring. Hard to believe, isn’t it? So I thought, in honor of the day, I’d do a little retrospective on the highlights of my first couple of months at TKE:

  • Our 30th Birthday with Diane Ackerman, September 10, 2007: This was the first event I worked at TKE — talk about a whirlwind! As exciting as it was to come into the store during its 30th year of business (buy local!), it was even more exciting to meet one of my favorite nonfiction authors of all time. Not only was it fantastic to meet her and hear her talk about The Zookeeper’s Wife, but I literally got chills when she was nice enough to sign and personalize my very dog-eared copy of A Natural History of the Senses.
  • Pam Munoz Ryan came, September 17, 2007, to sign copies of Paint the Wind, after spending a day at local schools. This was the first time I was attached to an author for an event, which means I was introduced into the fine arts of book prepping — PostIt-ing books for kids in line, getting stock ready for her to sign, etc. Ask any events bookseller, it really is an art.
  • September 22, 2007, was my first Shannon Hale event, for Book of a Thousand Days. If you’ve ever been to one of our events for Shannon, you know exactly how overwhelming they can be. Definitely a lesson in crowd control!
  • October 11, 2007, was the first time they ever left me alone to run an author event; it was also the first time I introduced an author. To understate, I was nervous. Fortunately for me, it was the lovely and talented Alexandra Enders, in town to promote her debut novel Bride Island. She was sweet, the crowd was great, and everything went well. Phew!

Since then there have been too many events to count, all buckets of fun. You may think I’m just saying that, but it’s true. Ask any events coordinator: All the madness of setting up the event, finding a venue, publicity, making sure you have the right books, making sure the books get to the venue on time, staffing, and the million other details that need your attention — all of that fades to nothing as you watch an audience and an author connect.


The Big One: Our 30th Birthday and Diane Ackerman

October 3, 2007

Customers in LinePerhaps you’d heard? This is our 30th year in business! So, like any good independent business, we threw ourselves a party, and lots of you wonderful folks came!

And when I say lots, I do mean lots… It must be our charm. Or our 30% off sale. Or the lure of Diane Ackerman. You decide.

There is no doubt that without all of the support from wonderful customers like youCustomer with Books (and like this guy!), we wouldn’t be here. So thank you!

Before Diane went on, we had our prize drawing — for which, I might add, we had an overwhelming number of entries. We hope you all liked your prizes!

And then, it was time for the Author. She took the stage (or rather, the podium), and proceeded to entrance all 150 of us with the background of The Zookeeper’s Wife:

A true story— as powerful as “Schindler’s List”— in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw— and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants— otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. 8 pages of illustrations.

It was an amazing talk by an amazing woman — I reread bits of my copy of A Natural History of the Senses (which has now been signed!) every few months, so I’m already a fan. But I think that even if I wasn’t, that talk would have been enough to convert me.